WITH just days to go before the local government elections, political parties are pulling out all the stops to woo voters in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
The ANC and the main opposition party, the DA, have both brought out their big guns in recent days in a last-minute attempt to sway voter sentiment in their favour.
The DA has high hopes of winning three of the country’s biggest metros — Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Nelson Mandela Bay — in next week’s local government elections.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro is regarded as a hotly contested municipality and some observers believe that the DA has a good chance of unseating the ANC, even perhaps as part of a coalition. In the 2011 local government elections, the ANC won by a small margin, with 51.9% of votes, against the DA’s 40.1%.
ANC president Jacob Zuma addressed the party faithful in Port Elizabeth at the weekend, calling residents to vote for the ANC. He criticised the DA, saying it was the offspring of the National Party, with the same anger and attitude towards black people.
ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, who spent the better part of the week campaigning in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, told journalists on Wednesday that the party would remain in power. South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande also campaigned on Thursday for the ANC in Port Elizabeth.
ANC mayoral candidate Danny Jordaan said this week he was confident the governing party would retain power.
“Everywhere we go, the halls have been packed…. People love the ANC; they hate corruption,” Jordaan said.
Speaking to Business Day during a door-to-door campaign in the Port Elizabeth township of New Brighton on Thursday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said August 3 would be like a Soccer World Cup final for the party.
Maimane, a football enthusiast, said that the DA was “going for the win and not playing for penalties”, and, therefore, the party was not thinking about coalitions.
“It’s premature to discuss coalitions…. It’s like being a coach of a football team and you announce who will be taking penalties, instead of going out and playing for a win,” Maimane said.
Addressing party supporters later during the day in Despatch, a small town situated between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, Maimane said: “Never before has there been so much on the line in an election, and never before has the ANC faced the prospect of losing on so many fronts.
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“We are about to make history. This election will determine the path we take as a nation. It will literally shape our future.”
Political analyst Joleen Steyn-Kotze said that the DA had run a very aggressive campaign, focusing on its successes in Cape Town and the Western Cape.
The ANC, in turn, has capitalised on moves to “clean up governance”, roll out free WiFi, and set out to fix botched housing projects through the administrative leadership of Jordaan.